BEAN-GROWING ENVIRONMENTS IN COSTA RICA

Note: The GIS-based dot maps used to associate the harvested bean area with the feature noted below are based on Costa Rica's Consejo Nacional de Produccion in 2005.

Rainfall Distribution

Planted Area Distribution by Departments (map)
While beans are grown throughout Costa Rica, most of the production is carried in western deparments. From these, four departments accounted for more than 90% of the total planted area in 2005: Huetar North (7,990 ha, 49%); Brunca (4,275 ha, 26%); Chorotega (1,868 ha, 11%); and Pacific Central (1,036 ha, 6%). These four regions accounted for more than 95% of total production in 2005. However, the first two departments had almost 50% higher yields than the latter.

Bean Market Classes (map)
Farmers in Costa Rica grow two bean market classes. Small reds (photo) and black beans (photo). Black beans account for 80% of annual production while small red account for an estimated 20% of annual production. Besides this, red beans are paid a higher price than black.

Harvested Area Distribution by Season (Primera map, Postrera map)

Beans are grown throughout Costa Rica in two seasons, the Primera and the Postrera. In the Primera (May-August), ...% of the harvested area is planted. In the Postrera (October-December), ...% of the harvested area is planted. Approximately 30% of the beans are planted on valleys while 70% are planted on hillsides.


Harvested Area by Rainfall (Primera map, Postrera map)

Harvested Area by Production System (map)

Harvested Area by Elevation (map)
In Costa Rica, beans are planted in a wide range of elevations that go from less than 100 to more than 1,000 m.a.s.l.; however, elevations between 100 to 800 m.a.s.l. are the most desirables. On elevations higher than 1,000 m.a.s.l. (13% of planted area), mesoamerican landraces beans are grown but these have little importance in the bean sector. Almost 50% of the planted area is done in elevations of less than 250 m.a.s.l. and just 13% in elevations above 1,000 m.a.s.l.

In the Brunca (South region) department, the bean production areas are located in elevations that range from 400 to 800 m.a.s.l. In this region, the planting date starts approximately three weeks after the planting date in Central Valley.

Harvested Area by Slope (map)
In terms of slope, the distribution of the bean areas follows an unimodal pattern. Flat field (slope of 0-5%) accounts for about two-thirds (68.5%) of the area. Less than one-third of the bean crop (area) is grown on intermediate slope land (5-10% = 16.3%, 10-15% = 8.6%), a even smaller share (6.7%) of the crop is grown on relatively steep/hillside fields (15-30% = 6.2%; >30% = 0.5%). The difference between this information and the one in the Bean Farming Systems page could be given by the fact that even in hillside production, farmers' fields can be flat or very steep.

 

CONSTRAINTS TO BEAN PRODUCTION IN COSTA RICA

Abiotic Stresses
Drought/Flooding. In Costa Rica, drought may become a problem especially in the Postrera season. During the past ten years (1994-2004), drought has been the cause of lower yields 40% of the time. Drought affects both the north and south regions of the country. Despite this, excessive rainfall (>500 mm/yr) is more common in the south part of the country.

Soil problems. The main soil limitations are low levels of organic matter, low phosphorus and low pH. Soils that present these characteristics are considered as red soils. In Costa Rica, close to 90% of the harvested area is planted in this type of soils. Among these, the main factors that limit bean production are phosphorus and pH levels. Additional factors that may limit bean production are magnesium (Mg) and manganesium (Mn) levels, therefore, varieties with tolerance to these are desirables. Low phosphorus and/or pH levels reduce yields while high tolerance to Mg and/or Mn increase bean yields.

 

Biotic Stresses

Diseases. From 1999 to 2004, angular leaf spot and web blight have been the most important diseases causing yield losses. These have been an important problem in both the Primera and Postrera seasons. Common mosaic virus and anthracnose are other important diseases that have contributed to yield losses. However, among all possible diseases that may affect beans, the most important (first most important, last less important) in reducing yields are angular leaf spot, web blight, and anthracnose.

Elevation and rainfall are the main bio-physical factors that contribute to the incidence of the three most important diseases in the country: angular leaf spot, web blight, and anthracnose. For the three diseases, elevations between 100 and 800 m.a.s.l. and rainfall between 1,600 and 2,000 mm/yr contribute to the incidence of these diseases. The landrace Sacapobre is affected by anthracnose when planted at sea level.

Insect Pests. In two regions of the country, specific insect pests have been a problem during 1999-2004 as they have caused lower yields. In the north region, leaf minors have reduced yields, while in the south region (especially Brunca department), chrysomelids (the adult of corn rootworms) have been a problem, both kind of insects affecting beans only in the Postrera season.

Whitefly Pressure (map)-- in development.